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Vitamin A (Retinol) Information | Mount Sinai – New York

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If you are being treated with any of the following medications, you should not take vitamin A without first talking to your health care provider:

Tetracycline antibiotics: People who take a type of antibiotic called tetracyclines and also take high doses of vitamin A may be at risk for a condition called intracranial hypertension, which is a rise in the pressure of brain fluid. Tetracyclines include:

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  • Demeclocycline (Declomycin)
  • Minocycline (Minocin)
  • Tetracycline (Achromycin)

Antacids: One study suggests that the combination of vitamin A and antacids may be more effective than antacids alone in healing ulcers.

Anticoagulants (blood thinners): Long-term use of vitamin A or taking high doses may increase the risk of bleeding for those taking blood-thinning medications, particularly warfarin (Coumadin). Talk to your doctor before taking vitamin A.

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Cholesterol-lowering medications (bile acid sequestrants): The medications cholestyramine (Questram) and colestipol (Colestid) may reduce your ability to absorb vitamin A and lead to lower levels in your body. A water-soluble form of vitamin A may help. Another class of cholesterol-lowering medications called statins may actually raise vitamin A levels in your blood.

Doxorubicin: Doxorubicin is a medication used to treat cancer. Test tube studies suggest that vitamin A may make the action of doxorubicin stronger. More research is needed to understand the effect. If you are undergoing treatment for cancer, ask your oncologist before taking vitamin A or any supplement.

Medications processed by the liver: Taking high doses of vitamin A along with some other medications that are processed by the liver may cause liver damage or even liver failure. Some examples of medications processed by the liver include acetaminophen (Tylenol), carbamazepine (Tegretol), isoniazid, and methotrexate. If you are taking any prescription medications, ask your doctor before taking vitamin A.

Neomycin (Mycifradin): This antibiotic may reduce the body’s ability to absorb vitamin A, especially when taken in large doses.

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Omeprazole (Prilosec): Omeprazole, used for gastroesophageal reflux disease or heart burn, may interact with beta-carotene supplements. Researchers do not know whether it also affects the absorption of beta-carotene from foods.

Retinoids: These medications are a synthetic form of vitamin A and are sometimes prescribed in high doses. People who take retinoids should not take additional vitamin A supplements. In addition, these drugs can cause severe birth defects. Women of child-bearing age must have two negative pregnancy tests and be on two forms of birth control before taking these medications. Anyone taking retinoids will be monitored closely by their doctor. Retinoids include:

  • Acitretin (Soriatane)
  • Bexarotene (Targretin)
  • Isotretinoin (Accutane)
  • Tazarotene (Avage)

Tretinoin (Retin-A) is usually prescribed as a skin cream to treat acne or reduce wrinkles and is not as concentrated as other retinoids. However, you may still want to avoid taking a vitamin A supplement while using Retin-A.

Orlistat (Alli) and Olestra: Orlistat, a medication used for weight loss, and olestra, a substance added to certain foods, both prevent the body from absorbing fat and calories. They may also prevent the body from absorbing enough vitamin A. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires that vitamin A and other fat-soluble vitamins (vitamins D, E, and K) be added to food products containing olestra. In addition, people who take either prescription orlistat or over-the-counter Alli may want to take a multivitamin.

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